Desalination plant sends the wrong signal – Livingstone

Controversy over Government-approved plans for a Thames Water desalination plant flared this week as London Mayor Ken Livingstone continues to declare his opposition to the initiative despite the operator's commitment to powering the facility with renewable energy.

The Mayor of London said: “Building a desalination plant sends the wrong signal. We should be encouraging people to use less water, not more. An extra £200 million on Londoners’ water bills for a technology more appropriate for the desert is a disgrace.

“Last summer we managed to save nearly three times more water than this plant can make through our drought campaigns, a much cheaper and far more sustainable solution to our water supply problems.

The plant, which, if built, will desalinate water from the Thames to replace that lost through Thames Water’s leaky pipes, will be on green belt land near Beckton, in east London.

The Mayor of London Ken Livingstone has criticised the government’s rejection of his opposition to the plant and its proposed acceptance of Thames Water’s plans for a £200 million desalination plant at Beckton as a a ‘misguided and a retrograde step in UK environmental policy’.

“‘I refused Thames Water’s application to build this plant on London’s green belt because Thames Water should be fixing more leaks before they find expensive ways to spend Londoners’ money on making fresh water,” said Mr Livingstone.

“They have the worst leakage record in the UK and the water produced by this plant won’t even come close to replacing what they waste every day.”

According to a statement issued by Thames Water, the Government “signaled its approval for the plant subject to an undertaking from Thames Water dealing with the requirement for agreement.”

Thames Water claims that if the plant goes ahead, it “will be the first of its kind in the UK, removing salt from water in the tidal stretch of the Thames to supply up to 140 million litres of water a day to London during times of drought.”

In response to the Mayor’s concerns, Thames Water’s sustainability director Richard Aylard said: “We have made a commitment to provide 100% of the plant’s energy needs from renewable sources…by using Bio-diesel from plant materials, we can provide all the power needed to run the plant.”

Dana Gornitzki

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